Today I had the unique opportunity to sit down and chat with one of Japan’s most creative young minds, Ujico*/Snail’s House. The now 20-year old producer is currently working on a collaborative piece with French producer Moe Shop at the time of our talking; discussing inside his recently moved-into first apartment. To say that Ujico is a prodigy would be an understatement. Within just three years, the creative has managed to release well over 100 tracks bridging both physical and digital formats. On top of this, he’s worked closely with popular arcade series’ Beatmania IIDX and Taiko no Tatsujin to include his music in their latest entries.
Apart from an English-language interview he conducted with Red Bull Radio some couple of months ago, there’s always been an air of mystery surrounding the producer. Besides an active Twitter account run by Ujico himself, there’s few platforms to truly learn about him. We’ve gone ahead and attempted to bridge that information gap, especially as the producer gears up for an extremely busy 2017:
Before we get too into things, can you tell me a little bit about how your Ujico*/Snail’s House project started?
It’s been about three years since I started at this point, back in 2014. I was listening to a Japanese jazz musician called Hiromi Uehara, and I was shocked by the skill in which she could play keys. I never considered myself a piano player, more-so just a hobbyist. But when I heard that Hiromi was performing in places like New York with her incredible music, I couldn’t help but give it a go. Her song ‘Spiral’ in particular made me want to try out the piano. The name ‘Ujico’ was actually a childhood nickname that I’m not quite sure why I received. One day my friend decided to call me it, and it just kind of stuck with me.
You’ve got a whole lot on your plate right now, between hitting the 70,000 follower milestone on SoundCloud, and a multitude of your tracks breaking the 1,000,000 play-count on YouTube, what’s going on in the world of Ujico lately?
It’s actually kind of crazy, there’s a lot of my tracks that are getting so much more than a million plays now. There’s one that’s recently broken 2,000,000 and another that’s over 3,000,000. As for what I’ve been doing, not much has changed since I first started. My music has certainly helped me reach new heights, but I’ve always been comfortable doing what I’ve been doing. I enjoy the pace that I can operate at, and I think that’s really important.
If someone was to tell the Ujico of three years ago that he would have a following of 70,000+ on SoundCloud alone, as well as that you’d have played internationally, would you believe it?
I mean, I still kinda don’t believe it. Even now I’m still very much at the point where if someone was to come back in time and tell me of my success in the future, I wouldn’t be able to wrap my head around it. I’m extremely humbled by how far I’ve gotten, but I’d be lying if I said that I understood the success. I make music that I enjoy, and I’m happy that other people can come to enjoy it too.
Just over a year ago you were sitting at 20,000 followers, would you say there was any one song that you would attribute your success to?
Honestly, there’s probably about four songs that I would truly consider my reason for growth. The first would be a release I did on Trekkie Trax called ‘Nyan Nyan Angel!’. It got a lot of support in Japan from artists like DJ Wildparty and Masayoshi Iimori, which helped grow my following in Japan a lot. But I think my biggest breakthrough moment would be when I released a song called ‘Ma Chouchoute’ through Tasty Network. I originally uploaded it to my SoundCloud and reached out to a friend of mine who had a following of about 10,000 to repost it. Following that, it went viral within it’s first week. This is where I started to reach a more international audience. Three weeks later I re-released the song through Tasty Network where it would then go on to spawn a few viral meme videos. Other than those two, my biggest successes would have to be ‘Grape Soda’, and ‘Ramune’, which I still consider to be one of my greatest works.
So what can we expect to see next from Ujico? Have you got any big plans for the rest of this year?
I’ve got three physical releases this year, as well as ‘Ordinary Songs 3’ coming out soon. I can’t go into too much detail about the physical releases, but there’s a lot I’m very excited about. As for ‘Ordinary Songs 3’, I’ve worked very hard on it to ensure that it’s as good as it’s predecessors. The first release was simply an archive of free music for fans, but it contained some real gems. I’m pretty happy with the progress of the third installment though, and I believe it contains one of my best songs ever, ‘Lullaby’.
Where is it that you pull inspiration from? Or rather, what is it that inspires you to make music?
I derive a lot of inspiration from images, especially animated ones. Illustrations of views have been the basis for so many of my works, so it’s something I’m always looking for. When I look at an image, I like to imagine what’s going on within that world, and then try and make music that would accompany everything that is going on inside of it. That’s probably where I pull most of my inspiration from.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
I like to make the kind of music that I would listen to myself, and lately I’ve been spending a lot of time working in my bedroom. So I guess that’s the kind of vibe it’s got, almost like the kind of music you would listen to from within your bedroom. I used to go to the clubs a lot, but more recently I’ve grown tired of that, so maybe there’s been an evolution in my sound.
In the past you worked with the team at Attack the Music to perform in North America for your first ever international live performance. Would you look at performing internationally again in the future?
Absolutely, I’m always looking forward to opportunities like that. I enjoy meeting fans from overseas, and always appreciate the chance to get booked in a foreign country. I have a very global audience, so being able to perform for all of them is extremely special to me.
Thank you for your time!
If you’re interested in checking out more of Ujico’s works, he’s recently begun uploading to his YouTube channel, as well as his always-active SoundCloud account. He can also be found on Twitter where you’ll often find him interacting with fans from all around the globe.